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Leadership Development in Practice:

Trends and innovations

Full Report

Summer 2003

A review of programme literature carried out for

National College for School Leadership

by

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Contents

Executive summary 3

Introduction 6 International trends in leadership development 7

Current issues in leadership development 10 programmes in the UK and the USA

Innovative programmes 15

Key features and design principles 17 Discussion and recommendations 24

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Executive summary

Introduction

The purpose of this study is to review the diverse range of practical knowledge and information about leadership development programmes and initiatives. This report builds on the review of the academic literature conducted by Bush and Glover (NCSL 2004) by looking at current programmes for school leaders in the UK and the USA. It draws upon many programme descriptions, websites and other references in order to investigate current trends in leadership development and highlights a number of recent innovations. Some key features and design principles are identified to inform policy makers, planners and others interested in school leadership development programmes.

Key findings

Internationally, the role of the headteacher and principal is changing. The changes are reflected in new trends in leadership development programmes. The following points outline the implications of these international trends for UK and US leadership development programmes.

• Developing and using staged models of leadership development linked to a planned series of programmes for the effective transition into leadership roles is more common.

• Leadership standards are now being established in several countries. Whilst the various national standards share many similarities, they are not without their critics and some of the problems are listed.

• The role of LEAs and Districts is shifting and intermediate (‘mezzo’) levels of support are emerging. In the USA, there is a wider range of providers and funding bodies than ever before.

• Many programmes now have a focus on leadership and learning (both pupils and leaders). Explicit theories of how learning underpins programmes are, however, uncommon.

• Mentoring and coaching are becoming more widely used. Findings from research show that mentoring is both popular and effective.

• Many programmes and activities emphasise ‘development from within’, ‘work-based’ learning and ‘communities of practice’.

• There is widespread use of experiential learning and reflection as learning becomes more active than passive.

• In an attempt to improve the links between research, theory and school practice, leadership development programmes are utilising case studies, action learning and problem-based learning (PBL).

• Collaborative leadership learning, communities of practice and networked learning are emerging innovations that are building credibility in providing leadership development.

• Increasingly, online communities are being set up to facilitate communication and e-learning. Evaluations have shown variable use by heads and principals but this is a growing trend.

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Conclusions

Analysing trends in the UK and USA and examining various innovative programmes suggests a number of recommendations. These suggestions could be considered by programme planners and others when designing leadership development schemes.

• The content of leadership development programmes needs to be tailored specifically to the changing needs of the participants, and linked to their stage of leadership. An overarching view of how programmes for each stage link with each other is vital for a strategic view of leadership development.

The first year in post is a particularly challenging period for new

headteachers. Research has shown that providing new heads and principals with access to trained mentors during this period is particularly supportive. During the first three years of headship, leadership programmes enable new headteachers to explore practical issues and challenges, and gain a deeper understanding of what it really means to be a school leader. After these crucial early years, heads and principals need access to a variety of in-service activities.

• Leadership programmes should be built around a theory of learning made explicit and understood by the facilitators and the participants. In order to bring together theory and practice, the programmes should have a carefully planned structure that allows time for ideas to be discussed, tried out in the work place and then brought back to the cohort group for further

consideration.

• Recent evaluation research (Bush, Briggs et al. 2003; Paterson and Coleman 2003) shows that new headteachers value a variety of learning methods and approaches. Programme planners should consider using a combination of features, with the aim of developing reflective practitioners who become increasingly self-directed learners.

• Research and evaluation of leadership development programmes is generally weak or absent altogether. Independent evaluations indicate the impact of programmes on participants and their schools; and enhance the evidence base about ‘what works’ in leadership development.

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About the study

This review is based on a range of sources from the UK and the USA: journals, conference papers, books, and leadership development programme literature. These sources were selected from a combination of internet searches (using the Google search engine), recommendations by 46 leading academics, and the author’s knowledge of research in the field of school leadership over 25 years. Appendix 3 provides further details and a list of the sources used.

Contact details

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Introduction

This review examines trends in leadership development programmes and highlights a number of recent innovations. The purpose of the study is to review the diverse range of practical knowledge and information about leadership development programmes and initiatives in the UK and the USA. Much of this information exists outside the formal academic literature. Over 100 references and more than 30 web links are provided which enable readers to follow up initiatives and themes of particular interest.

Surprisingly little research has been conducted to examine the problems of

experienced headteachers or principals. However, a 10-year longitudinal study by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) of new secondary school heads in the UK was able to track the problems as they changed over time. Most problems were perceived by the heads to lessen over time. Examples included: getting staff to accept new ideas; creating a good public image of the school; dealing with poor staff morale; improving communication and consultation; managing staff development; establishing discipline; dealing with finance; and issues concerning non-teaching staff. However, a few problems seemed to increase, such as managing time and priorities, and working with the governors, whilst the challenges of dealing with incompetent staff appeared to remain constant over time.

Bush and Glover (2004) note that individual analysis of needs is widely regarded as “a critically important means of determining the leadership development need of school leaders but there is only limited evidence of this being put into practice” (p3). The National College for School Leadership (NCSL) recently commissioned a systematic review of the research literature concerning the problems and support strategies for the early years of headship (Hobson et al. 2003). The main problems identified were dealing with:

• professional isolation and loneliness

• the legacy, practice and style of the previous headteacher • multiple tasks, and managing time and priorities

• the school budget • ineffective staff

• the implementation of new government initiatives, notably new curricula or school improvement projects

• problems with school buildings and site management

It is important to note that the problems were largely similar in different countries and to some extent, consistent over time, although contemporary government initiatives might bring with them particular problems. All new leaders experience a process of socialisation as they try to understand their new role and take charge of an

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International trends in leadership development

Throughout the world, the role of the headteacher and principal is undergoing change. This has affected leadership development programmes and this section of the paper examines the changes and identifies a number of trends.

Beck and Murphy (1993) reviewed how the image of the US principal in literature changed throughout the 20th century. They found that every decade provided a dominant metaphor of educational leadership. At the beginning of the century, principals were largely considered to be teachers with administrative responsibilities. By the 1920s, the principal was viewed as the guardian of accepted values (a ‘values broker’). The scientific manager became the dominant metaphor in the 1930s, which framed the principal as a business manager and school executive. The influence of the Second World War meant that 1940s principals were seen as leaders of

democratic schools. By the 1950s, principals needed to be skilled administrators who made efficient use of time; while, in the 1960s, principals were bureaucratic

executives who used proven strategies to promote excellence. The 1970s principal was expected to lead solutions to social problems within their community whilst principals in the 1980s were framed as visionaries and instructional leaders guiding teachers and pupils towards productive learning experiences. In the 1990s, principals were offered a range of metaphors to choose from:

• leader • servant

• organisational architect • social architect

• educator • moral agent

• person in the community

Murphy (2002) condensed these into three core metaphors, which he considered necessary for a re-cultured profession of educational leadership. In his view, the principal or headteacher is seen as “a moral steward, educator, and community builder”.

Beck and Murphy (1993) suggest that the metaphors are usually introduced by academics within the theoretical literature — not until some years later are they incorporated into leadership development programmes and picked up by practitioners. A recent review of the leadership literature and the changing

conceptions of school leadership is provided by the NCSL-commissioned study by Bush and Glover (2003).

Bush and Jackson (2002), and West and Jackson (2002) draw on a series of visits to 14 leadership centres in seven countries, which took place in 2001. These visits confirmed an international consensus that leadership development occurs at all stages of a person’s career. In almost all the centres, the programme content had moved to transformational, learning-focused and ethical models of leadership. The learning designs involved the use of reflection, action research, enquiry methods, study groups, networks and experienced principals acting as mentors and

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Key Trends From To

The Programme Prescribed course Standard

Theoretical

Study programme and real issues Customised

Theory in context

The Time-frame One-off event A journey with ongoing support

The Mode Lecturing/listening Conceptual

Participatory, interactive and applied Experiential and conceptual

The Focus Individuals Individuals within a group and for a

purpose

The Consultant Supplier Partner, co-designer, facilitator, and coach

Hallinger (2003) considers school leadership development from a global perspective, including direct analysis of 11 countries and indirect analysis of another 11 nations. Hallinger reviews the period from 1980 to 2002 and identifies a number of trends. He points out that global forces such as school-based management, the integrated and centralised curriculum, and high-stakes testing and accountability have created major changes in the education systems of the world.

In 1980, no country had a clear system of national requirements, agreed upon

frameworks of knowledge, and standards of preparation for school leaders. The USA was one of the few nations where school administrators were required to have any type of pre-service preparation or certification and even this system lacked

consistency. Beginning in the 1980s, principals’ responsibility for leading schools became more marked, and an imperative to focus their efforts on improving children’s learning emerged. In 1980, school leadership preparation and

development in the USA was almost exclusively the domain of universities. However, by 1990 there were over 150 principal centers and state leadership academies. Outside North America (for example the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Asia), growing comparabiity in educational policies and practices has led to the emergence of an international curriculum for leadership preparation and development began (Bush and Jackson 2002, pp 420-421, Gronn 2002).

Hallinger argues that the considerable criticism of pre-service courses reflected their lack of coherence and detachment from the realities of the principal’s workplace. The predominant mode of delivery was lecture and discussion. Currently some states and districts offer beginning principals a support system of induction. But this is not true everywhere and “sink or swim” remains the norm in many school systems.

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critical to the development of attitudes, skills, and

professional norms that support both current and future growth (Hart and Weindling,1996).

Hallinger argues that in-service opportunities are often haphazard, under-funded and limited in both scope and content. The content of in-service programmes, however, is more varied in approach than the pre-service curriculum and is more firmly

connected to the needs of principals. The greater involvement of practitioners in planning, mentoring and delivering programmes has had a beneficial effect and is in sharp contrast to pre-service programmes. But other developments are less positive; one example being centralised mandated approaches that do not take the particular context of the principal’s school into account.

The review of the literature suggests that there is a number of identifiable trends in leadership development:

• Needs analysis is widely regarded as an important element of leadership development but is rarely included in practice.

• The development and use of stage theories linked to a planned series of programmes for the effective transition into the leadership roles.

• The establishment of leadership standards.

• A wider range of providers and funding bodies than ever before.

• A focus on leadership and learning (both pupil learning and that of leaders). • The widespread use of experiential learning, reflection and ‘development from

within’, through cohorts, groups and communities of practice.

• The increased trend towards ‘constructivist leadership learning’, which necessitates a move to more active learning.

• Greater attention to the role of networks and learning communities. • An increased use of mentoring and coaching.

• Better links between research, theory and the realities of school practice (for example the use of case studies and problem-based learning).

• Increased use of online communities.

• Greater emphasis upon values, educational platforms and emotional intelligence for leadership.

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Current issues in leadership development programmes in the

UK and the USA

Stages of leadership development

The most commonly used terms for the three major phases of headteacher or principal development are: pre-service, induction, and in-service. In the UK the term professional development, or more recently, leadership development, is often used to cover all three phases. A number of studies suggest that heads and principals move through a series of developmental stages as they experience socialisation. Detailed discussion of this issue is provided in the books by Hart (1993), and Crow and Matthews (1998). The evidence shows that:

“School leaders do not emerge from training programmes fully prepared and

completely effective. Their development is a more involved and incremental process, beginning as early as their own schooling and extending through their first years on the job as leaders. Becoming a school leader is an ongoing process of socialization.” Duke (1987).

This quotation from Dan Duke is an important reminder that school leadership develops over a considerable period of time and includes a complex process of socialisation, which involves both experiential and formal learning. A useful approach to understanding this leadership development derives from Merton’s (1963)

socialisation theory. The stress here is on the two-way interaction between the leader and the school situation (with each trying to change and influence the other). In this view of socialisation, there are two main overlapping phases:

• professional socialisation, which involves learning what it is to be a principal or headteacher, prior to taking up the role, from both personal experience of schooling and teaching, and from formal courses

• organisational socialisation, which involves learning the knowledge, values and behaviours required to perform a specific role within a particular organisation, after appointment to the school

A number of models have been developed to describe the various stages of school leadership development. Weindling’s (1999) seven-stage model is based on

empirical data from a 10-year longitudinal study of over 200 new secondary school headteachers (see Weindling and Earley 1987, Earley et al 1990, Earley et al. 1994/5, for details).

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Stage 0 - Preparation Prior to Headship

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Stage 1 - Entry and Encounter (First months in post)

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Stage 2 - Taking Hold (3 to 12 months)

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Stage 3 - Reshaping (Second Year)

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Stage 4 - Refinement (Years 3 to 4)

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Stage 5 - Consolidation (Years 5 to 7)

ƒ

Stage 6 - Plateau or Regeneration (Years 8 and onwards)

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model is that it can be used to show headteachers the likely stages they will follow, and to plan various types of leadership programme for heads at different stages in their career.

In the UK the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH), Headlamp (or the new Headteacher Induction Programme - HIP), and the Leadership Programme for Serving Heads (LPSH) offer a coherent suite of opportunities for the three main phases of leadership development for headteachers in England. These are rooted in NCSL’s ‘Leadership Development Framework’ (NCSL 2001), which frames five stages of school leadership:

• Emergent leadership – when a teacher is beginning to take on management and leadership responsibilities and perhaps aspires to become a

headteacher.

• Established leadership – comprising assistant and deputy heads who are experienced leaders but who do not intend to pursue headship.

• Entry to headship – including a teacher’s preparation for and induction into the senior post in a school.

• Advanced leadership – the stage at which school leaders mature in their role, look to widen their experience, refresh themselves and update their skills. • Consultant leadership – when an able and experienced leader is ready to put

something back into the profession by taking on training, mentoring, inspection or other responsibilities.

The framework adds emphasis to the earliest and later stages of leadership development, provides a link across developmental career stages and forms the basis of many NCSL activities.

Succession planning

In the USA, as elsewhere, there is concern about the high proportion of principals and superintendents due to retire shortly, and the significant shortage of new applicants. It is noticeable that a considerable amount of the US efforts are

concentrated on the recruitment, training and certification of aspiring principals – ie the pre-service phase. It is estimated that there are over 500 US university

programmes for aspiring principals, leading to an administrative certificate that is required before becoming a principal. In sharp contrast to the large number of pre-service programmes, there are relatively few US induction programmes directly aimed at beginning principals in their first or second year, which is a crucial period and affects future success.

It seems, however, that while large numbers of people hold administrative

certificates, few are applying for principal and superintendent posts. Jones (2001) estimates that preparation programmes are probably producing two or three times the number of certified candidates compared with the number of principal vacancies. However superintendents say there is a shortage of applicants which may be as high as 55% of high school and 47% of elementary vacancies. In addition, many of those who take up post leave within their first three years. Because of these problems, there are many initiatives attempting to improve ‘the principal pipeline’.

Leadership standards

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who introduced the standards in 1996. Their use is spreading and currently about 35 of the 50 states are at different stages of development and utilisation of the

standards.

There are six main standards:

“A school administrator is an educational leader who promotes the success of all students.”

• Standard 1. By facilitating the development, articulation, implementation and stewardship of a vision of learning that is shared and supported by the school community.

• Standard 2. By advocating, nurturing and sustaining a school culture and instructional programme conducive to student learning and staff professional growth.

• Standard 3. By ensuring management of the organisation, operations and resources for a safe, efficient and effective learning environment.

• Standard 4. By collaborating with families and community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilising community resources.

• Standard 5. By acting with integrity, fairness, and in an ethical manner. • Standard 6. By understanding, responding to, and influencing the larger

political, social, economic, legal and cultural context.

The standards are being used for certification as a principal, for principal evaluation and for professional development programmes. National headteacher standards have also been introduced in England and other parts of the UK. The development and use of performance standards appears to be a world-wide trend, which is not without its critics. Leithwood and Steinbach (2003) point out the similarities in

standards across the USA, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The standards define what educational agencies seek in their principals. While praising the considerable effort required to produce the first generation of standards, Leithwood and Steinbach offer a critique and argue that there is a number of shortcomings that need to be overcome in the production of a second generation. The following are some of the criticisms and a brief indication of how they might be improved.

• Existing standards appear to view the concept and practice of leadership as unproblematic. But nothing could be further from the truth. Therefore a second generation should make these challenges explicit and adopt a

position in relation to each. The new standards should note the debate about definitions of leadership and stipulate at least one for its own purposes. • Standards are claims about effective practice and need to describe

systematically the evidence on which they are based. Most first-generation standards fail on this score.

• Standards should acknowledge those political, social, and organisational contexts in which leaders work that significantly influence the nature of effective leadership practices.

• Standards should only specify effective leadership practices or performances, not skills or knowledge. This is an example of making claims that dramatically exceed what we can defensibly claim to know. There is essentially no

research-based evidence available about the knowledge that a leader must possess in order to engage in effective practices.

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of individuals, whereas the collective or distributed leadership of the school is at least as critical to its effectiveness.

Leadership and learning

Although the purpose of school leadership, clearly, should be the enhancement of children’s learning, various authors have re-emphasised the notion of leadership for learning. Boyd (1983) argues as follows: “School management and the preparation of school administrators need to be vigorously redirected towards the enhancement of the outcomes of schooling for children.” This clarion call continues to gain

momentum, with Block (1993), Elmore (2001), Knapp et al. (2003) and Kochan et al. (2002), who highlight the role of the principal as the steward of learning. In their view “principals must become the stewards of learning who strive to keep the focus of the school on learning for students, teachers, and themselves”. Many leadership

development programmes are now realigning their curriculum to focus on how leaders can help teachers’ and, particularly, children’s learning.

The changing role of LEAs, the district and the ‘mezzo’ level

There has been substantial transformation of the landscape of school education in the UK since the beginning of the 1980s, which has turned “the English system from one of the least to one of the most centralized in the world within the period of a dozen years” (Glatter 2004). Schools have more financial autonomy, there is a strong accountability system, increased marketisation and competition for students. This is combined with recent policy statements that, paradoxically, urge increased

collaboration between schools and other agencies, and the establishment of the National College for School Leadership and its affiliated centres.

There has also been the establishment of a ‘mezzo level’ of development provision via Excellence in Cities, Excellence in Clusters, Leadership Incentive Grant

Collaboratives, the London Challenge and Networked Learning Communities, amongst others. Given this new context, it is unsurprising that universities, LEAs, professional associations and other agencies are re-defining their role in leadership development provision. In Scotland, for instance, the work-based programme Scottish Qualification for Headship is delivered through a partnership between local authorities and approved higher education institutions.

In England, Earley and Evans (2002) were commissioned by NCSL to review School Leadership Development in LEAs. They produced a good practice guide with

examples of LEA provision under each of NCSL’s five stages of leadership development (available at www.ncsl.org.uk). Some LEAs have begun to integrate their provision by providing programmes that are planned to cover each of the career stages.

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Performance Learning Communities Project’. The findings show that a variety of strategies, including principal network groups, were used very successfully. The project reports are available from www.lrdc.pitt.edu/hplc/hplc.html.

Two of the key people (Alvarado and Fink) from New York moved to San Diego and brought in a similar model, although on a large scale. See Hightower, 2002, for details of the scheme.

The increasing range of sponsors and providers

In the USA, universities are mainly involved in the pre-service phase of leadership development because this is where they get a large amount of their funding. It is harder to obtain funding for induction and in-service programmes for beginning and experienced principals. This is largely left to the districts and states, who have to obtain local and federal funds.

Recently, the range of sponsors and providers in the USA has expanded to include private foundations, principal centers and state academies, professional associations and local districts themselves. Several private foundations, such as the Gates

Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the Danforth Foundation and the Wallace-Readers Digest Fund, have invested considerable amounts of money in leadership development. These are very interesting schemes for which references are given in Appendix 2.

Principal centers and leadership academies

In addition to existing local district and university-based leadership centers in the USA, a number of principal centers and state leadership academies have been established to provide leadership development for principals and superintendents. Federal funding from the Education Department’s LEAD programme (not the Wallace-Readers Digest one above), which ran from 1987 to 1992, facilitated the creation of principal centers and state academies. During that period, there were over a hundred principal centers and at least one academy in each state. In May 2001 the Education Commission of the States (ECS) conducted a survey, which found that about 25 of the 50 states still had leadership academies which were now funded by the state or with private foundation funds. (The report is available from

www.ecs.org/clearinghouse).

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Innovative programmes for leadership development

Jackson and Kelley (2002) describe the characteristics of some American preparation or pre-service programmes. They list the criticisms of many existing courses and then discuss the knowledge base and the development of leadership standards. They give examples of six (mainly university-based) schemes, which they offer as examples of good practice. The better programmes use cohorts, problem-based learning, collaborative partnerships between the providing university and the districts, school-based field experiences for the candidates, and online technology. A model is presented to show the key elements of a good programme. First there is a clear vision that drives programme decisions and provides opportunities for the development of programme coherence. In the model, the students, the faculty

(university staff and visiting practicing school administrators) and the knowledge base are linked by the programme structure, process, and strategy.

In a companion piece, Peterson (2002) looks at programmes of professional

development for principals once they have taken up post, and 12 examples of good practice are given. These are mainly provided by leadership academies and principal centers. He identifies two broad aspects of the programmes:

• structural arrangements, such as: clear mission and purpose, curriculum coherence, instructional strategies, links to state initiatives and certification, use of IT, length and time structure

• cultural elements, such as: links to state or district values, mission and community, the programme culture and symbols

Peterson discusses each of the above features and offers useful advice to improve programmes. He believes that the design of professional development is complex and requires careful attention to both the structural and cultural features. The case studies he describes show there are many different approaches to training school leaders. However, he argues that most programmes remain independent and loosely linked to principals’ career stages, with little attention to co-ordination and long-term planning. He recommends that programmes should be career-staged, with

specialised training for aspiring, new and experienced principals. The core mission of the programmes should focus on leading schools that promote high-quality learning for all pupils.

To help the professional needs of more mature, well-trained school leaders who have completed existing programmes but want to deepen their skills in a specific area, the programmes could use: study groups, advanced seminars, reading and discussion groups, presentations by current thinkers or expert practitioners, attendance at national academies or conferences and opportunities to become coaches, facilitators, mentors or trainers.

Danzig (2001) suggests that programmes have moved to a focus on leadership values, creativity and narrative approaches. He believes that two main themes can be identified:

• leadership involves knowledge developed through various self-assessment techniques

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The New Visions programme

In England, the NCSL New Visions Programme for Early Headship provides a very good illustration of an innovative approach to leadership development. Most noticeable is the combination of features (drawn from a body of theory and good practice), which are integrated around an explicitly constructivist theory of learning that emphasises dialogue, reflection and the use of learning sets.

The programme recruits approximately 300 new heads each year. The participants work in 20 regional groups of 8-12 people with a facilitator and a consultant who is an experienced headteacher. The structure consists of a two-day residential and eight further one-day sessions over a 12-month period. There are four broad themes drawn from the NCSL propositions of leadership: values and context, learning and teaching, sharing leadership and facing the future. The process utilises action learning, problem-based learning, case studies, reflective journals and short commissioned papers called ‘think pieces’.

The programme is based on an explicit theory of knowledge and learning. Building on notions of learning and communities of practice (Wenger 1988, Wenger et al. 2002), the ‘three fields of knowledge’ are a cornerstone of the programme. These fields are: the knowledge of individual heads, the external knowledge of theory and research, and the knowledge created in the community of heads. The use of cohort groups and peer learning during the regular meetings and through the online community, has proved particularly powerful and rewarding.

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Key features and design principles

A set of key features and programme principles emerges from the review.

Programmes that incorporate these components are likely to help heads address the problems identified earlier. Several of these features overlap and can be used in combination with other components. This section outlines each of these components and provides references for readers to follow up particular themes of interest.

Learning theories

Theories of learning underlying leadership programmes may be implicit or, deliberately and beneficially, made explicit to participants. Most innovative approaches to school leadership development are rooted in cognitive and

constructivist perspectives. This is most clearly illustrated by Hallinger, Leithwood and Murphy (1993), and the notion of the constructivist leader in Lambert et al. (2002). The following fundamental principles are derived from this perspective (Szabo and Lambert 2002):

• Learning is an active rather than a passive process.

• Learning is by nature social and is most likely to occur when learners share ideas, enquire, and problem solve together.

• Learners must have opportunities to make sense of new knowledge and create meaning for themselves based on individual and shared experiences. • Reflection and meta-cognition contribute to the construction of knowledge and

the process of sense-making.

• New learning is mediated by prior experience, values and beliefs.

In Canada, Begley (1995) has developed the use of profiles of school leadership to support the growth of principals through cognitive apprenticeship. He defines a profile as a two-dimensional matrix that describes developmental stages of growth in

professional action within selected dimensions of practice. The notion of cognitive apprenticeship comes from Collins et al. (1989), who advocates the acquisition of situated knowledge through social interaction and constructivism, as opposed to the passive, isolated and decontextualised processes emphasised in many educational settings.

There is now a well-established body of knowledge regarding the theory of adult learning (Knowles 1980, Merriam and Caffarella 1999), which can support the design of leadership development activities. One of the best summaries of the findings from the study of adult learning is provided by Wood and Thompson (1980):

• Adults learn when the goals and objectives are considered realistic and important to the learner, that is job-related and perceived as being useful. • Adult learners need to see the results of their efforts and have accurate

feedback about progress towards their goals.

• Adults come to the learning situation with a wide range of previous experiences, knowledge, skills, interests and competence. Individualised learning, therefore, is appropriate for adults as well as children.

• Adults want to be involved in the selection of objectives, content, activities and assessment of their in-service education.

• Learning a new skill, technique or concept may provoke anxiety and fear of external judgement.

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An issue of concern is that some leadership development programmes either have no theory of learning or one that remains implicit in the minds of the programme developers and hidden from the participants.

Reflection

Probably the most prevalent concept that runs through leadership programmes is the use of reflection in a variety of forms. This is usually traced back to Schon’s (1983, 1987, and 1991) notion of the ‘reflective practitioner’ and is often linked with experiential learning approaches such as Kolb’s learning cycle (1984). It is argued that these form fundamental ways of learning and various opportunities should be provided to allow school leaders to reflect on their experiences both of the training and their work situations. Barnett and Brill (1990) describe how reflection was built into the Danforth Foundation preparation programme at Indiana University. Other examples are given by Hart (1993), and Short and Rinehart (1993). For further details on the innovative Danforth programmes, which were run in 22 different American universities between 1987 and 1992, see the book by Milstein (1993). General books on reflection are those by Moon (2000), and Bolton (2001). While Seibert and Daudelin (1999) discuss the role of reflection in managerial learning, the use of reflection for school principals and teachers is described in the books by Osterman and Kottkamp (1993), and Brubacher, Case and Regan (1994). Mentoring and coaching

Research has shown that mentoring is a particularly popular and useful form of support for new heads or beginning principals (Hobson 2003). While different approaches are used, the most common is for an experienced head to work one-to-one with a new head for at least a year.

An interesting example of a mentor training programme began in 2000 at the Australian Principal Centre in Melbourne. Using a two-day programme, SAGE has now trained and prepared about 350 experienced principals to act as mentors who support new principals throughout Victoria. This programme is based on research about mentoring and uses knowledge from adult learning to develop reflective skills for principals. After the central training programme, the mentors work in their districts with support from the regional education officers. (This is one of five case studies of early leadership development described in Weindling (2004) and available on the NCSL website at www.ncsl.org.uk/publications.)

The largest study of mentoring is the national evaluation of the headteacher mentoring scheme in England and Wales (Bolam et al. 1995, Pocklington and Weindling 1996). Data was obtained from 303 headteacher mentors and 238 new heads. The mentoring process moved through a series of phases from practical advice to a deeper consideration of their role as headteacher. Key features of successful mentoring programmes are training the mentors and ensuring that they meet face-to-face with their mentees at least six times a year. The findings showed that new heads greatly welcomed the support they received through mentoring, which reduced their feelings of isolation and improved their confidence and

competence. Benefits were two-way, with mentors obtaining a new perspective on issues in their own school from their work with the new heads.

Books that discuss principal mentoring include Crow and Matthews (1998) and Daresh (2001). Gardiner, Enomoto and Grogan (2000) look at the issues of

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range of professional support. Useful coaching references from the business field are: Goldsmith, Lyons, and Freas (2000), and Zeus and Skiffington (2002). The psychology of coaching is covered in Peltier (2001).

Action learning

Another common feature is the use of action learning techniques. This is a process of learning and reflection that takes place with the support of a group, or ‘learning set’ of colleagues working on real-world problems presented in turn by each member of the group. The aim is to help the individual with the understanding and solution of the problem. After discussion within the set, the individual takes action in the work setting – the action side is called a project. There are three roles in the action learning set: the presenter, the supporters (the rest of the group) and the facilitator. Revans (1998) developed the initial idea in 1945 from work in the coal mining industry. He believed that “there can be no learning without action and no (sober and deliberate) action without learning”. McGill and Beaty (1995) provide a useful and practical account of action learning. Dotlich and Noel (1998) show how top business companies use action learning for leadership development.

There is sometimes confusion between action learning and action research. Action research is a research method originally developed by Kurt Lewin from his work with groups beginning in 1938. He believed that the feedback from research should inform action. Action learning and action research share the focus on learning from

experience, and both have action and reflection phases. They are both based on the learning cycle of: reflect – plan – act – observe – reflect again etc. (which is similar to that of Kolb). However, they have different origins and traditions. Action learning is a more general approach to learning and problem-solving using the set of colleagues. Research is not the primary aim — and the project may not involve any formal research at all. Kember (2000) provides descriptions of both action learning and action research.

Problem-based learning and case studies

The use of problem-based learning (PBL) for school leadership development has grown in recent years and variations of it were found in many of the programme descriptions. Originating in medical education (see Barrows and Tamblyn 1980), its use has spread to other fields such as architecture, law, nursing and engineering (see Boud and Feletti, 1997).

PBL in educational administration training was developed at Stanford University in 1987 by Bridges and Hallinger (1992), who outline the following key principles:

1. The starting point for learning is a problem (that is, a stimulus for which an individual lacks a ready response). The problem is usually presented in the form of a case study.

2. The problem is one that participants are likely to face as future professionals. 3. The knowledge that participants are expected to acquire during their training

is organised around problems rather than disciplines.

4. Participants, individually and collectively, assume a major responsibility for their own instruction and learning (tutors act as facilitators, rather than dispensers of information).

5. Most of the learning occurs within the context of small groups rather than lectures.

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Bridges and Hallinger argue that PBL has strong cognitive and motivational

advantages over traditional lecture-based approaches. Cognitively, participants need to apply their prior knowledge in order to understand the new information. The

context in which the information is learned resembles the context in which it will later be applied. Undertaking the process of PBL has been found to be highly motivating for participants. This is because they learn by doing, interact with their peers and get immediate feedback. PBL is not seen as a complete replacement of existing

programmes, but as an important component.

For examples of case studies that can be used in PBL, see the ‘Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership’ at www.ucea.org/cases. Other useful sources are Grady et al. (1995), Green (2001), Hanson (2001), and Snowden and Gorton (2002).

Cohorts, groups and learning communities

Many leadership programmes are now run with a cohort or group of participants who meet regularly over a period of time. The research reports numerous advantages to working as a group rather than as individuals. (See Barnet et al. 2000, and Scribner and Donaldson 2001).

Mohr (1998), from her work at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, suggests a number of factors for successful work with principal groups:

• The groups are small (from six to 15 members).

• They have a facilitator responsible for convening the group, setting the agenda with the group and keeping members on task.

• Participants come together to build knowledge by looking at their own work, pupils’ work and research.

• They use structured protocols that build in time for presenting work, listening (without responding), for giving and receiving feedback, and for debriefing the process.

• Participants focus on learning how to deepen their understanding by being more descriptive and less judgemental.

The ideas of Etienne Wenger (Lave and Wenger 1991, Wenger 1998 and Wenger et al. 2002) have had a considerable influence on leadership development programmes as they attempt to establish favourable conditions to facilitate learning communities. Wenger stresses the social nature of learning and defines a community of practice as “a group of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis”. Communities of practice are everywhere and they are not new. But, as Wenger points out, not all communities are communities of practice and not all practice gives rise to a community. The terms community and practice refer to a very specific type of social structure with a very specific purpose. The latest book (Wenger et al. 2002) looks at the principles required to cultivate a community of practice, their stages of development, and the positive and negative aspects of communities of practice.

For heads and principals who want to establish their schools as learning communities see Hord (1997), DuFour and Eaker (1998), and Morrissey (2000). They identify the factors that encourage learning communities and the steps needed to create them in schools.

The use of learning communities for leadership development is most clearly provided by Norris et al. (2002). The four authors have worked on Danforth preparation

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10-year period. A learning community is a valued means of overcoming the isolation found in most of the research on school leaders. The authors discuss the inter-relations between individuals, groups and communities:

“In the learning community individuals are intricately interwoven into groups and groups are reflections of individuals. Individuals are supported, affirmed, and inspired in groups; they are transformed. In turn, individuals transform groups through their collective efforts and commitment to a meaningful purpose. Groups empower individuals; individuals empower groups. It is the reciprocal process known as community.”

Norris et al. believe that the learning journey takes the cohort through five ascending developmental stages:

• support – where a comfortable and helpful climate assists them

• security – where they begin to feel confident in themselves and one another • friendship – where they join with others by their own choice

• acquisition of knowledge – where the learning becomes meaningful and they practice the skills they will need as leaders

• definition and preliminary realisation of each member’s personal dream The programme is centred on transformational leadership, values and developing a “leadership platform”, which is defined by Sergiovanni and Starratt (1979) as:

The way school leaders develop their assumptions or beliefs that deal with the way children and youth grow, with the purposes of schooling, with the nurture of learning, with pedagogy or teaching, with educational programmes, and with school climate.

Narrative and drama

These interesting instructional techniques have grown somewhat in use recently. General uses of narrative are given by Mattingly (1991). Its use as a management tool in the business world is described by Neuhauser (1993). For school leadership, examples are given by Clandinin and Connelly (1991), who use narrative material from a nine-year study of professionals’ practical knowledge.

Quong et al (1999) point out that while the use of school leadership stories in training has grown in recent years, many people have difficulty in fully using them. To assist and deepen the analysis and interpretation of stories they have developed a heuristic device, which they call the Context, Intuition, and Influence framework (CII).

• Context - what are the issues, conditions, values and norms that have led to the formation of the story?

• Intuition – or the professional insight of the storyteller. It is important to listen to the subjective views of the person.

• Influence – why do people think and act in the way they do? It is necessary to identify what has led to the person’s beliefs and actions.

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use more reflective skills, and they provide deeper insights into the lives, hopes, successes and failures of the leaders.

Meyer (2001a and 2001b) makes use of drama in his educational administration programmes in a technique he calls Theatre as Representation (TAR). Based on real incidents, Meyer provides a short scenario and a written script that participants read out in the form of a drama. Some of the students play the parts while others observe. It is not a free role play because people use the script. Participants are able to take on the persona of the characters. After the presentation of the piece both the

participants and observers reflect and discuss the issues. One scenario concerns the selection of a new principal and another where the principal has to deal with parents, students and staff after the basketball coach has reprimanded some of his lead players for misconduct during a practice session. Meyer has used TAR since 1993 and finds that both pre-service and in-service administrators respond very positively. They find that it brings the reality of the situation to life and demonstrates the

micropolitical nature of school leadership. Journals and portfolios

The learning journal is a well-tried means of helping the writer to record their

developmental progress over time and can be a vehicle to encourage reflection and metacognition. A short summary on journal writing and adult learning is given in an ERIC digest by Kerka (1996). The book by Moon (1999) gives a comprehensive account of learning journals and lists 18 purposes for which they may be used. She covers the research on journals and also looks at the practical side: their form (eg paper or computer-based), format, guidance for completion, uses and techniques to help the writers.

A similar process to the use of journals is the learning portfolio. However, portfolios consisting of writing, project reports or work samples have been used for a wide variety of purposes, often as a means of providing more ‘authentic’ assessment. Wildy and Wallace (1998) examined the use of portfolios by Australian principals, deputies and heads of department during a leadership programme. They found that the school leaders used the portfolios for different purposes such as; evidence for improvement, a means of organising their thoughts about their work, a record of their achievements and as a collection of work samples (in a similar way to an art

portfolio).

E-learning and computer simulations

The use of electronic leadership portfolios is described by Dixon and Dixon (2002). Several of the principal programmes that have received funding from the Gates Foundation are using on-line diaries. See for example

www.middleweb.com/mw/msdiaries/diaries01-02.html. Griffith and Taraban (2002) discuss the use of online mentoring of cases for the Ontario Principals’ Qualification Programme. The mentors post weekly scenarios from their own experience as a principal and a group of 15-20 aspiring principal mentees discuss these online. There are also online discussion groups that use commercial programmes such as ‘Blackboard’ to organise the forum. For a useful set of principles about facilitating on-line groups, see Mongoose (no date). Outon-line available at

www.mongoosetech.com/realcommunities/12prin.html

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www.ultralab.net/papers/bera2001/th/bera2001th.pdf. Crawford (2002) evaluated the use of a virtual learning community, which was part of the LPSH programme. She found that the heads varied considerably in their usage, from non-users to occasional and active users. An evaluation of their online communities was recently

commissioned by NCSL. The findings showed that informal online communities helped to reduce headteacher isolation, enabled them to generate and exchange insights into school practice, find and share expertise for school improvement and improve their ICT skills.

For general books on e-learning, see those by Rosenberg (2001), Rossett (2002), Schank (2002) and Sloman (2001).

Computer simulations are less commonly used in leadership development

programmes. Maynes (1996) describe a simulation developed at the University of Alberta to help the preparation of school principals. Claudet (1998) provides an example of another multi-media case simulation used at Texas Tech University. Hallinger has developed three computer simulations. ‘In The Center Of Things’ (ITCOT), which is based on school improvement research, asks participants to consider how to improve student learning in the case study school. Another programme is concerned with managing change in a school, while the third programme is about developing learning organisations. Each simulation uses problem-based learning and asks principals to work in small teams of three. This facilitates their reflection for both individual and group learning. For an introduction to ITCOT see www.vanderbilt.edu/lead/Purpose.html. For details on all the simulations see: www.leadingware.com.

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Discussion and recommendations

This review identifies a number of trends in school leadership development. Stage theories, some conceptual and some empirically-based, have been developed to describe the career stages of school leaders. If leaders become aware of their career trajectory, they can be reassured that the challenges they face are not unique and insoluble. Forearmed, they are more able to cope with any difficulties. Knowledge of the stages can also be used by programme planners to produce a better fit between what is offered and what leaders at different stages really need.

There is now an international trend for the establishment of leadership standards. Policy-makers find this useful as a means of providing a set of criteria for certification, and defining the knowledge base. Critics point out that the standards simplify the complex real world of the head and principal, and that some of the more important aspects of the job are difficult to assess. Leithwood and Steinbach (2003) offer a useful critique and suggest the need to develop a second generation of standards. In the USA, there has been an expansion in both the range of funding bodies and programme providers. The large amount of funding is being used to facilitate a variety of interesting programmes. In the UK, new systems are being introduced and it will take time to see how these work in practice. Effective leadership development requires adequate funding and cannot be run successfully on a shoestring and the goodwill of the participants.

The content of the programmes reflect the changing conceptions of school leadership (see the historical analysis of the US principal at the beginning of the paper by Beck & Murphy 1993). Currently in vogue are the themes of values, emotional intelligence, instructional/learning-centred and transformational leadership. Many of the trends in leadership development are linked with a new emphasis on leadership and learning, and a focus on leadership to improve pupil learning. Greater attention has also been given to the notion of the constructivist leader and the implications that this has for designing programmes at all stages. Associated with this is the key principle of developing the reflective practitioner through the use of cohort groups and

experiential learning. To improve the links between theory and practice, techniques such as action learning, case studies and problem-based learning are now all being used to a much greater extent than ever before.

The analysis of these trends and an examination of various innovative programmes suggest a number of recommendations. These suggestions are offered for

programme planners and others to consider when designing leadership development schemes.

• The content of leadership development programmes needs to be tailored specifically to the changing needs of the participants, whether it is pre-service preparation, induction during the first years, or in-service provision for more experienced leaders. An overview of how the programmes for each stage link with each other is vital for a strategic view of leadership development, from teacher through deputy head and headteacher to consultant, mentor or facilitator.

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many cases these programmes could be simplified, with a recognition that it is simply not possible to prepare someone fully for the principalship because organisational socialisation cannot begin until they take up post. The most underdeveloped stage is the support offered to new heads and principals. While some very promising programmes have recently begun in England and Wales, many more of these programmes and mentoring schemes need to be funded and developed. For examples of good practice in Australia, New Zealand and the USA, see Weindling (2003).

• It is important to provide new heads and principals with access to trained mentors during their first year in post, which research has shown is a particularly challenging period. Once heads have had time to settle in to the school, support enabling them to gain a deeper understanding of the school leader role is useful. After these crucial early years, heads need access to various types of in-service activities, institutes and academies. Experienced leaders who have reached the NCSL stage of ‘consultant leader’ will need opportunities such as those described by Kent Peterson earlier in the paper. • In order to bring together theory and practice, the programmes need a

carefully planned long-term structure that allows time for ideas to be discussed, tried out in the workplace and then brought back to the cohort group for further consideration.

• The programme should be built around a theory of learning that is made explicit and understood by the facilitators and the participants (see the example given earlier of the New Vision programme).

• Programme planners should consider using a combination of the various key features outlined above, with the central aim of developing reflective

practitioners. The content of courses must be relevant to the career stages and emphasise leadership to improve children’s learning. In addition, transformational leadership, the management of change, and the development of an educational platform are important.

• Research and evaluation are a weakness for many programmes that only gather information from participants on the day of training through ‘happy sheets’. Hallinger (2003) in his global review of leadership development over a 20-year period says: “There remain relatively few examples of high-quality research on training and development interventions and no evidence of programmatic research anywhere in the world.” NCSL is undertaking

research and evaluation of its programmes but the review found this was rare. Therefore most programmes need to consider commissioning external

evaluations in an attempt to assess the impact of programmes on participants and their schools.

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should be maintained, while encouraging adaptation of the other parts of the programme to fit the local context.

London (2002) concludes his study of leadership development using a psychological approach, by saying:

Leaders need to be continuous leaders. Their jobs demand it, and their careers would be dead without it – at least their careers would probably have an early demise. Continuous learning is a frame of mind and a set of

behaviours that contribute to ongoing professional renewal and the creation of opportunities. Continuous learners are self-directed and proactive about assessing the gaps in their knowledge and skills and finding and taking advantage of learning resources.

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